- Trader Joe’s workers at a store in Manhattan narrowly voted last week not to join Trader Joe’s United, the National Labor Relations Board reported Friday.
- In a separate election that also took place on Wednesday and Thursday, workers for the chain at a location in Oakland, California, approved a plan to join the union.
- The vote in New York dealt Trader Joe’s United its second defeat in the city as it presses ahead with efforts to organize employees of the specialty grocery company across the U.S.
The vote at the New York City store was evenly split, 76-76, denying Trader Joe’s United the simple majority it needed to bring the workers under its umbrella, according to the NLRB. There were no challenged ballots that could potentially have later tilted the outcome of the election, the agency said.
The election in Oakland was more decisive, with 73 workers casting votes in favor of unionizing and 53 spurning the proposal, the NLRB reported, noting that the parties involved in both elections have five business days to file objections.
The Oakland workers join Trader Joe’s employees in Hadley, Massachusetts; Minneapolis and Louisville, Kentucky, in deciding to unionize.
In a statement posted on Twitter by Trader Joe’s United after the votes were tallied on Thursday, the organizing committee at the New York store said it would “not stop fighting for each other and for the working conditions we deserve.”
The group characterized its effort to unionize employees at the store as a sign of strength even though the election did not go its way. “The odds are stacked against us — and those on top will throw a lot of money and time to keep it that way,” the committee said in the statement. “But every single time a worker — and in this case nearly 200 of us — stand up and courageously and proudly fight back against this reality, the working class makes huge strides.”
The loss for Trader Joe’s United in New York follows a vote against unionizing by workers at a store in the city’s borough of Brooklyn last October.
Trader Joe’s United’s drive to unionize workers for the chain has been marked by acrimony, with workers and the grocer each accusing the other side of not playing by the rules.
In February, the retailer asked the NLRB to invalidate the vote in Louisville, accusing workers and an attorney representing the union of fostering an “atmosphere of fear and coercion” as the unionization campaign played out.
The NLRB is also dealing with 56 open unfair labor practice charges related to Trader Joe’s, most of which could still be dismissed or withdrawn. In March, an administrative law judge for the agency found that the retailer had unlawfully fired a worker in Houston who complained about conditions at work, ordering Trader Joe’s to reinstate and provide back pay to the disciplined employee.